Objectives/background: The role of Helicobacter pylori infection in functional dyspepsia (FD) remains controversial. Several randomized controlled trials involving populations in the West, observed no statistically significant advantage over placebo. However, none of these studies involved Asian populations which have high infection rates.
Methods: A double blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial of H. pylori eradication for FD was conducted in our Singapore-based Asian population. Forty-one patients received active treatment consisting of a 1-week course of omeprazole 20 mg once daily, clarithromycin 250 mg twice daily and tinidazole 500 mg twice daily whereas another 41 patients received matching placebo tablets. A dyspepsia score was derived by grading 5 dyspeptic symptoms on a Likert scale. Symptom assessment and urea breath test were repeated at 6 weeks, 6 and 12 months from the start of treatment. The primary end point was symptom resolution, defined as a dyspepsia score of 0 or 1 at the end of 12 months follow-up.
Results: On intention-to-treat analyses, symptom resolution was observed in 24% of patients on active treatment and 7% on placebo; the difference in proportion of patients with symptom resolution was statistically significant (P=0.02, 95% confidence interval: 1.1-17.7). H. pylori eradication rates perprotocol and intention-to-treat were 80.0 and 68.3%, on active treatment and 5.6 and 4.9% on placebo (both P values<0.0001). Among patients with H. pylori eradicated on active treatment the symptom resolution rate was 39% (10 of 26), whereas it was 3% (one of 35) among patients in the placebo group who had persistent H. pylori infection. In multivariate analysis, posttreatment H. pylori status was the only predictor of symptom resolution. The majority of patients, 91.5%, had ulcer-like dyspepsia; heartburn and acid regurgitation were uncommon, and no increase was observed after treatment.
Conclusion: In contrast to Western populations, our results suggest that patients with FD in Asia would benefit from treatment for H. pylori infection with as much as a 13-fold increased chance of symptom resolution following its eradication.